June 14, 2010
55 17N 14 44E, Bornholm Island Baltic Sea
It was a month ago that we crossed our fingers and boarded a plane for Scotland hoping that the Icelandic Volcano would let us land. Jim had been over in April for a planned week of preliminary projects that stretched an extra four days when all flights were cancelled. We had no problem and landed in Glasgow, rented a car and drove to Inverness for the final preparations. There was engine work, a new electronic gadget to install; refrigeration issues; sails to bend on; things to unbend; and so forth, that kept us toiling for over two weeks.
We had help from several Scottish characters. Campbell and Bruce worked on the engine and transmission. Widower Campbell is raising two teenage daughters. Campbell and Bruce gave us some whiskey and a book about catching Gannets, considered a delicacy in the Outer Hebrides, Campbell's home. Haggis was as far out as we ventured on the culinary limb. These two and Robin, who sailed into Inverness a few years ago by way of the Indian Ocean, Somalia, the Suez Canal and the Med, helped us get our propeller shaft back in place. Robin thinks we might want to try reversing his route. 'As long as dress like you don't have money the Pirates won't bother you'. We are unconvinced.
And there was Stephen who showed up late one day after an all night gig to check the areal of our newly installed A.I.S. system. In doing so he lost his footing. His grab for support ripped down the antenna rendering the system inoperable. This prompted a ban from the boat until he was steady again.
The winds turned against us When we were finally ready to go at the end of May. We took a day off to visit Culloden Muir where the English defeated the Scots supporting Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1746.
The winds turned on June 1st. We dropped the lines in the afternoon and headed out on a falling tide, riding the ebb out of the Moray Firth and se sail north east toward southern Norway.
Two days and 20 hours later we rounded the top of Denmark and arrived in Skagen flying our little Danish courtesy flag and the yellow quarantine flag signaling our need to clear customs. Our call to the harbor master was answered that the harbor was full so we were directed to an 'overflow' dock. "Don't worry about customs and immigration because there isn't any."
It was a sunny Saturday and the harbor was packed with boats manned by Swedes and Norwegians wheeling shopping carts full of booze to their boats while consuming large quantities in the process. We were told that in Sweden alcohol is sold from state stores where one is allotted two bottles of wine a week. Apparently the alcoholics have bought sailboats.
In addition to watching people drink, Skagen has a wonderful small museum housing an outstanding collection of work by a colony of artists from a century ago. They came for the northern light, seascapes and simple life just as Winslow Homer did at home and produced strikingly similar results.
On June 7 we sailed to Anholt Island midway between Sweden and Denmark and tied up in the near empty harbor. Most of the island is pristine. After eating on board we went for an quiet evening walk in the late sun, still up at 9:30. The island is served by a ferry and masses of bicycles were parked waiting for day trippers to come exploring the next day. There is not much for overnight accommodation and no supermarkets selling discounted alcohol so few Swedish boats were in the harbor. However, some enterprising soul looking for more excitement had painted 'Rom and Vodka' on two of the fuel storage tanks.
As much as we wanted to explore by bicycle, we were up early the next morning and off for Copenhagen. We were a week behind schedule due to our late leaving Inverness. We had to get a package of parts that had been directed to a marina 60 miles to the other side of Copenhagen and we had to be in Riga Latvia by the 19th to meet Kelly and Jos Archer, Onora's builders, who will spend a week with us.
We figured we could squeeze in a stop at Helsingor and see Hamlet's Castle and so we did. The Castle's rows of cannons guard the two miles of water to Sweden. From 1450 till 1850 all ships had to halt and pay 'sound dues' before passing to and from the Baltic. Besides supporting the monarch and the country, this paid for the magnificent castle which carries 'World Heritage Site' status today. After exploring we ate at the restaurant overlooking the marina and mentioned our being somewhat bothered by our illegal alien status to our server. She responded that in contrast to history, today, outside of the airports, Denmark only employs five Customs and immigration officers and they are very busy searching for drug entry. They pay no attention to normal comings and goings by sea.
We arrived in Copenhagen on the 9th. We entered a well protected marina just north of the city and tied up in a canyon of sleek modern office buildings. Our nice dock was marked 'no mooring' in three languages. A visit the harbormaster's office found a locked door and a note that he was in from 5 to 6 pm and if he was not there to leave the money in an envelope. It was 5:30. We left the money.
We put our bikes together and joined the masses cycling to the city center and the museums. Our guide book recommended the boat tour as the best way to see the city. We enjoyed it but were disappointed that the 'Little Mermaid' was at the Shang-hi Fair and a video screen was in her place. It also rained relentlessly but we dressed for the weather and managed.
One pleasant surprise was that our parts package was not delivered to the distant marina where we had originally planned to be. We asked a local Suzuki engine shop if we could have it redirected to them and they agreed. UPS said that could be done. When we went the next day to check up the shop was closed but while we were deliberating what to do the man in brown marched up and handed over the package.
We arrive here last night and dropped the anchor just around the head of the island on a lee shore. Today is brilliant sunshine and so we launched the dinghy and motored into the harbor. There are a few whitewashed hotels and a number of half timbered dwellings along the twisting narrow streets. We went for a long hike up to the lighthouse and to the medieval castle home of the archbishop which owned most of the land around at the time. Dinner this evening was a buffet at one of the island's many smoke houses. We loaded our plates with Smoked salmon, trout, herring and several other unknown species.
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